“KISS IN THE DARK,” “LITTLE BAREFOOT,” “PRAIRIE BIRD”: WONDERFUL AMERICAN THEATRICAL BROADSIDE COLLECTION— PRIMARILY BOSTON
(DRAMA). American Theatrical Broadside Collection. Boston: circa 1840-1880. Fifty-five individual sheets. Various sizes, typically 8 inches wide by 20 inches high (some matted). $4000.
Nearly all of these 55 delightful broadsides were published in Boston in the mid-19th century— advertising various Boston venues— romantic dramas, comedies, satires, farces, and even lighter fare.
During the 19th century, Boston experienced a conflict between its Puritan background and an emerging trend toward “light” entertainment and artistic freedom. Despite the controversy, theater-going in Boston has always been quite popular, even if not always entirely legal. Newly established burlesque theaters often gave themselves such “cultural” names as the “Boston Museum,” and the “Boston Academy of Music,” in order to disguise their identity, albeit thinly. The growing demand for a night’s entertainment fostered the appearance of small playhouses in the neighborhoods, rivaling the “more prominent theaters located close to Boston’s commercial center and the Beacon Hill residences of affluent theater-goers” (Boston Athenæum). This fascinating collection contains 19 broadside playbills for performances at the Globe, 13 for performances at the National Theater, five at the Howard Anthenaeum, four at the Boston Museum, two at the Tremont, and one at the Boston Academy of Music. With 11 additional playbills from venues in other locations, including a few in New York.
Extremely good condition, with minimal edge-wear and fold-lines.